Modern businesses know that information is more than just data; it’s a very valuable asset. Unfortunately, there are some less-than-scrupulous businesses that choose to trade in this asset – usually without the knowledge of the people whose personal information is at the heart of it. At nlighten we have always been 100% committed to dealing responsibly and ethically with the information of our clients, and their clients, and we believe that responsibility extends to advising others on how best to keep their private information just that… private.
Lesson 1: If you’re not paying money for it, your privacy could be the price. Beware of things like free wi-fi hotspots. It’s pretty easy for anyone to set up a fake one using just a cellphone and then hack into your device when you access it. Always verify that the wi-fi network name is from a legitimate service provider and, if you’re at a place that offers free wi-fi, first check it’s name with the owner or manager. Most importantly, if it’s an unsecured wi-fi network (i.e. you don’t need a password to login) don’t use it.
Lesson 2: Work is work. Personal is personal. If you work in an organization, everything you do on your computer is available for public consumption. That’s because business servers are deliberately, and understandably, designed to keep an eye on everything going on in the company network. It’s not to spy on you, it’s to keep the business safe. So, if you want to send private emails, get your own, private email address. There are plenty of good free ones around.If you don’t like to give your email address to each service or message board you sign in to, there are some nifty temporary email services you can use like 10minutemail.com or mailinator.com. These give you a temporary and disposable email address, so you can sign up without receiving junk mail forever after.
Lesson 3: Beware the spam While a personal email is open to the dreaded curse of spam, don’t fall into the trap of responding to this junk mail and asking to be removed from the list. Often, this just confirms that your email address is valid – and this fact will be embraced with great glee by many other spammers. Rather just delete the spam you receive and, if you can, block the address that you’re receiving it from. It takes a bit of time, but it’s a safer approach.
Lesson 4: Be password savvy Use a different password for each accounts you have. Yes, it’s difficult to remember them all, but it’s the only way to stay truly protected online – and you can always store them in a handy password manager such as LastPass, KeePass, etc.
Lesson 5: Answer wisely Most sites ask you to provide an answer to a security question so that, if you forget your login details, it’s easy to have them sent to you again. Unfortunately, most sites aren’t particularly creative, so they tend to have the same security questions. That means, if a criminal manages to find the answer to one question, he can then access your login info for any other sites where you’ve provided the same answer. What’s more, it’s not too difficult for anyone to go onto a social network site and find out what school you went to, what your first car was, or what your mother’s maiden name is. Rather avoid these questions, or make up a unique answer that only you know and, of course, that you’ll remember.
Lesson 6: Think before you type Never type important login information on a public computer. It may have a kernel-mode keylogger installed (a device that records every letter you press). If you can’t avoid using a public PC to do your banking, remember to logout and, as soon as you get home, change your password.
Lesson 7: Be a cookie cutter Cookies are little bytes of code used to track your actions online and send the info to businesses to use in their online strategies. Depending what Internet browser you’re using, you can, and should, turn off these third-party privacy invaders under the Settings, Privacy, or Preferences tab. Possibly the most important privacy tip we can offer is to always remember that nothing you do online is 100% guaranteed to be private. You wouldn’t use an ATM with a stranger looking over your shoulder, but we often forget that our actions in the virtual world can be accessed by many such strangers. Stay aware and vigilant, and don’t do anything online that puts your privacy or personal data in peril.
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